For the most part, you're throwing darts later in your drafts. Once you hit double-digit rounds, the likelihood of one of your players breaking out diminishes rapidly. With that being said, there are definitely some players that are more inclined to return value and breakout than others at this point in the draft, and I have listed five of them for you below. These are my top 2018 fantasy football sleepers in the later rounds (ADP 100+) at the wide receivers position.
Nelson Agholor - Philadelphia Eagles
Current ADP: 106 Overall, WR43
I'm mad the news of Jeffery broke yesterday about him missing at least the first two games because I wrote this article like a week ago.
Agholor is easily my favorite pick outside of the top 100 picks, and I'd be perfectly fine taking him as early as the 7th or 8th round.
Agholor legitimately balled last year for the first time. He was a stud when he came out of college at USC, and was drafted as just that - in the first round, 20th overall by Philly. They completely miscast him in his role during his rookie and sophomore year with the Eagles though, leading to an awful start to his career.
During those first two seasons, Agholor ran 80% of his routes on the outside. Guess what happened last year - he operated as their full-time slot WR, flipping the script and running 80% of his routes from the slot, leading to a career-high 62/768/8 line - He would finish the year as the WR22 in 0.5 PPR fantasy, a spot ahead of teammate Alshon Jeffery, despite receiving 25 fewer targets.
What I love about Agholor is not only is he locked in as the WR2 here but their supposed WR1, Jeffery has yet to clear his name from the PUP list after a lengthy recovery from offseason rotator cuff surgery. And this is just a personal opinion, but I don't think Jeffery is really that fantastic of a WR, to begin with, but that's not what this is about. The Eagles play on TNF next week against the squaaadd, so there's less time to be ready than other NFL teams. We haven't heard much about the Eagles plans in terms of putting Jeffery on the PUP, but it wouldn't shock me to see him miss a game, maybe two.
If this happens, Agholor becomes their WR1 and should see a big boost in targets. We also aren't sure what's going on with Carson Wentz, who by all means seemed to look good in every video I've seen, but he still is yet to be cleared for contact, that's a bit worrisome considering we're about a week away from game time. Of course, as an Agholor owner I'd much rather Wentz be under center, but last year Agholor actually averaged 4.3 receptions vs. 3.5 receptions, and 6.15 vs. 5.8 targets with Nick Foles in the lineup. The volume is key here - 6.15 targets pace out to around 100 targets - which I think Agholor is a shoe-in for in 2018. If Jeffery does indeed miss time, Agholor could be looking at somewhere between 110-120 targets, which makes him an incredible value at pick 106.
Per PlayerProfiler, Agholor's production premium ranked him 17th among NFL WRs last year and his target premium ranked 7th among all NFL WRs. He had the 10th highest QB rating when targeted among all WRS and ranked 10th in the NFL in fantasy points per target. I won't say all of this is predictive, but Agholor is going to be a key piece of a very good offense, and looking at his usage in the RZ (18 - 11th) and 10Z (9 - 9th among WRs) last year, his 8 TDs, while they might regress are a good bet to finish at a minimum of 6 or 7. There wasn't a single WR in the NFL last year that finished with 7 or more TDs and finished outside of the top-40 fantasy WRs. He's currently being taken as WR43. If Jeffery misses time, Agholor could be the steal of your draft. If not, I still like him as a consistent WR3 as I think Jeffery will start slow.
Kenny Golladay - Detroit Lions
Current ADP: 140 Overall, WR51
Y'all should be well aware of Kenny Smooth by this point:
Lions 3rd round pick last season has been as advertised when given the chance. The concern here is just that - does he get the chance? Nothing about anything tells me Marvin Jones or Golden Tate are in danger of losing snaps or playing time to Golladay - but surprising things happen every year in fantasy football, and Golladay absolutely breaking TF out would probably be the least surprising, surprising thing to happen.
Golladay dealt with a hamstring injury that forced him to miss five games in 2017 as a rookie but averaged a sexy 17.0 yards per reception on 28 catches as a rookie. In their final preseason game (for the starters) Golladay out-targeted all Stafford weapons, with 5. He only caught 1-of-5 for 36 yards, but the usage is encouraging. However, the Lions did go back to starting Tate in 2WR-sets in this one after some rumors came out about the opposite happening in 2018 supposedly. In their 3rd preseason game, Stafford played on 36 snaps - Jones (33), Tate (32), Kenny G (26). Regardless, the Lions have run 3-WR sets more than any team in the NFL over the last two seasons, so even if that were true, it doesn't mean much as all 3 WRs will see ample field time.
After splitting snaps with T.J. Jones last year, and dealing with that hammy injury, Kenny G will have a much more productive 2018, as he's set up to be a near full-time WR. I still fully expect Jones to be Stafford's number one deep option, but Golladay will have a few monster games I bet - if something were to happen to either WR in DET, Kenny G has top-15 upside.
Anthony Miller - Chicago Bears
Current ADP: 160 Overall, WR60
If you've followed me whatsoever this summer, you already know that Miller is the homie. End of story. I genuinely believe Miller is going to explode in this league. And I'd rather be a year early than a year late, especially at his current almost non-existent price tag.
Chris Godwin - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Current ADP: 219 Overall, WR74
Godwin was a guy I loved before the summer started, and he's done nothing to quiet my excitement about him during the Bucs preseason games. As he did in 2017, Godwin has made the most of his field time in August, securing 7-of-8 targets for 55 yards while leading the receiving group with two scores, while having a 3rd TD called back on a penalty.
The 22-year old, 3rd round pick out of Penn State needs a full-time role. & the Bucs coaching staff is ready to give him that. Everyone, from their GM to OC to beat reporters have raved about CG. "He's earned the right for a bigger role", "he's earned the right to start", "a clear standout in spring camp. makes lots of plays every day".
Over CG's final two years at PSU he racked up almost 2,100 yards, 16 tuddys, averaging over 16.0 YPR. Then he exploded at the combine as a top-tier athlete. He ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at 6'1", 210lbs, good for an 89th percentile weight-adjusted speed score and as a 95th percentile SPARQ athlete, top of his class.
He was just 21 last year, still very raw, having to earn playing time behind Evans and D-Jax, but certainly made the most of his time on the field. Gawd turned 54 targets into 525 receiving yards, carrying over that playmaking ability from college to the NFL. His 15.4 yards per reception ranked 13th in the NFL, his 9.7 YPT ranked 7th, beating all Bucs WRs in those as well as ranking first in YAC.
What stood out more was his ability to be the guy when Evans and D-Jax missed time. When the overrated Evans missed Week 10, GAWDwin assumed the WR1 role, catching 5-of-10 targets for 68 yards. When D-Jax missed Weeks 16 and 17, he was even better, posting lines of 3-98 and 7-111-1 to close the year.
He played in only 41% of snaps in 2017, but that should grow. So far this preseason, Godwin has played on 43-of-70 (61.4%) of snaps with the starters. As John Paulsen over at 4for4 put it: "In five games where Chris Godwin played at least 50% of the snaps, he has averaged 4.2-73-.20 on 7.2 targets per game." D-Jax won't be phased out of the offense but his time is coming and if Godwin's snap count starts to steadily increase, we could be witnessing a late-round breakout.
Keelan Cole - Jacksonville Jaguars
Current ADP: 229 Overall, WR78
Ya'll probably think I'm lying but I really wrote this piece a week ago before Lee went down with his injury two, but Cole will still be going outisde of the top 100 picks in drafts this weekend I'm sure
Following the knee injury to Marqise Lee, Keelan Cole becomes THE Jags WR to own - I promise you this. It's not Dede Westbrook, it's not Donte Moncrief, it's not D.J. Chark - it's Keelan Cole and it's about to be a #ColeWorld - the only Cole we acknowledge at the HQ.
I want to introduce you to Keelan Cole. He's the 25-year old UDFA out of.... JWOI.... Kentucky Wesleyan. Cole was running as the starting WR opposite Marqise Lee already, but given Lee's szn ending injury, Cole will climb the ladder to #1. Fantasyguru.com - "The Jags’ first-team offense has run 53 pass plays over their last two preseason games (vs. MIN, ATL). Their first-string WR snaps on pass plays are over these two games are: Keelan Cole — 42-of-53 (79%); Donte Moncrief — 31-of-53 (58%); Dede Westbrook — 26-of-53 (49%); DJ Chark — 14-of-53 (26%)."
Despite catching a total of 8 passes from Weeks 1-8 last year, Cole ended up leading the team with 748 receiving yards, tying Marqise Lee with 3 scores. He saw more thn 60% of the teams snaps twice during the first nine weeks of the season. Once they let the young prince wild, he did just that. From weeks 9-16, Cole was fantasy's WR10 in standard leagues, WR14 in PPR. He led the NFL during that span racking up 20.1 yards per reception. Out of all NFL wideouts with 45+ targets in 2017, KC would finish ranking 2nd in YPR (17.8), 6th in YPT (10.2) and 4th in YAC (6.8).
Over the last five weeks of the szn, the only fantasy WRs that outperformed Cole were Keenan, D-Hop, Julio and TyFreak. He threw up three monster games in a row in Weeks 14 (3-99-1), 15 (7-186-1) and 16 (6-108). Fool me once... you know the saying.
PFF's Joshua Norris compared Cole to Marvin Jones, which I think is spot on. A long, lanky (6-1, 195) outside threat who's great at pinpointing the ball and grabbing it away from defenders at its peak. Ironically, Jones was the only player to have a higher YPR (18.0) total than Cole in 2017.